E-commerce experienced rapid growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people turning to online ordering to fulfill their needs without leaving their homes. Anytime there is rapid growth, there is also rapid change in any industry. With change comes pain points all digital retails stores will face in the coming year.
Insider Intelligence predicted a 13.7% growth in 2021, with a total of $908.73 billion in e-commerce sales. There’s still plenty of room for players of all sizes to enter the market, but they must be prepared for the unique challenges due to rapid technological advances.
What are the top pain points e-commerce businesses will face in 2022? Here are the ones we think you should prepare for, while understanding unique obstacles may appear along the way no one predicted.
People all over the world are returning to their lives prior to the pandemic. Schools are reopening, businesses meeting face-to-face and events occurring. Less confinement means people may be more likely to buy things in-person rather than turning to online options.
While all signs point to continued growth in the e-commerce sector, businesses must prepare themselves to be more competitive. What perks do customers get when they order from your online store?
The pandemic also changed the shopping behavior of customers. They want the positives they had before 2020 but they want it faster and more convenient. Studies show 58% of consumers want quicker trips than two years ago. Curbside pickup and contactless checkout aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
If you offer a hybrid model with both brick-and-mortar and online stores, then make pickup options simple and intuitive. Use an app so people can pay easily. If you only have online shopping, your task may be a bit easier but you’ll still need to offer fast and convenient service.
Mega retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have made people expect simplified returns. People don’t want to pay return postage or wait untold weeks for a refund. Instead, they want to drop off an unwanted item without even boxing it.
The shift toward effortless returns makes it particularly difficult for smaller businesses that might not have the connections with third-parties, such as UPS, to accomplish the task. You can instead offer a generous return policy and strive to make the process as easy as possible. There are other benefits to working with a smaller brand so focus on pushing those to your buyers to make up for any deficiencies in this area.
The ability to pick things up curbside or get two-day delivery has also pushed logistics to a new level. Customers expect things to be mailed out immediately and arrive in a timely manner. Seek out partners that can get your goods from Point A to Point B quickly and efficiently.
Going with the lowest rate carrier may not be the best plan of action if you want your customer satisfaction rate high.
Recent supply chain disruptions threaten nearly every industry’s health from automotive to retail. Port congestion is just one part of the problem. There is also a lack of supplies from countries hard hit with COVID-19.
The result was the US growth forecast dropping by a full percentage point, the highest of any G7 economy. The inability to keep popular items in stock is a growing trend around the world. As people find they can’t buy ordinary products, they panic and overbuy, making the situation even worse.
Many people either got laid off or stayed home during the height of the pandemic. Some refuse to go back to a grueling job while others simply seized the opportunity to start their own businesses. More companies means more competition as people struggle to find their footing in a challenged economy.
One pain point many e-commerce companies face is added competition. It’s fairly easy to hang out a digital shingle. A little luck and the newcomer may gnab some of your customers as well.
Retailers must work harder than ever to develop brand loyalty and reduce customer churn. Figure out what makes your business model unique and engage your customers to keep them happy and devoted to you.
People want a variety of ways to pay for goods and services. The latest concerns over the IRS potentially looking at any transaction over $600 has even more people turning to Bitcoin and other options outside of what they’ve always used.
Consider which options are right for your e-commerce store and buying audience. You may want to add at least one or two more to ensure you have a wide variety. At a minimum, you should take credit cards and third-party gateway payments such as Stripe and PayPal.
If you choose to accept Bitcoin for payment, make sure you research it carefully and go with a qualified provider to ensure you don’t lose funds.
These are just a few of the pain points your business is likely to encounter in the coming year. Technology changes rapidly, so you may find some of your designs and systems are horribly outdated much more quickly than in the past.
Pay attention to bottlenecks in your process and fix them with new software and hardware options. Talk to your customers about the features they’d like to see you add. With a little forethought and insight into what your clients want, you’ll wind up with a thriving e-commerce store your customers return to and tell others about.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.